The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Exciting new additions to CU await students in Fall 2024

Jack Larson
An aerial view of the Main Quad on April 16, 2024.

The class of 2028 is not the only new thing we are looking forward to this upcoming school year, as many exciting restaurants, cafes, public spaces and more are coming to Champaign-Urbana as well.

The C-U community, especially Green Street, has many restaurants that students, faculty and community members enjoy — both chains and some exclusively unique to the area. 

With many one-of-a-kind restaurants already native to the C-U area, more continue to open each year with a completely different ambiance than the last. Cafes are a commonality on seemingly every other street throughout Campustown. Yet, in fall 2024, the area will gain a new rarity.

The Scratching Post cafe will begin taking reservations around the start of next school year, but what makes this new attraction so interesting goes beyond coffee, cocktails, snacks or any typical features of a coffee house menu.

The new business is a cat and board game cafe where customers can reserve a table to play common favorites and unusual board games. They can also book an hour-long time slot to play with adorable rescued cats.

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While the cafe will undoubtedly serve as an ideal study break for any cat or animal lover, it aims to address a larger issue affecting the area. With local shelters overcrowded with cats, the cafe hopes to bring more attention to the felines and maybe even find some cats a permanent home. 

Twenty percent of profits from food, drinks and merchandise will go to the cafe’s partner rescues. This new addition to the community will not only benefit students looking to alleviate stress or play board games with their friends but will also aim to better the overpopulated community animal shelters.

While the new cafe differs from any other business currently opened in the area, C-U plans to add a popular name with Crumbl Cookies at 2005 S. Neil St

Since opening in 2017, Crumbl has expanded to over 980 bakeries in the United States and other international locations. Crumbl is well-known in Chicago and its suburbs and also features locations throughout Illinois in Peoria, East Peoria and Normal.  

Although Champaign already features many bakeries, you can never go wrong with another sweet treat. The store was set to open in March 2024 but was postponed due to other construction within the C-U area. It will hopefully be open for business before the upcoming school year.

Crumbl Cookies and The Scratching Post are only a few of the incoming restaurants, but new menus are not the only advancement that will enhance C-U in the coming months.  

This past February, the Champaign City Council accepted a state grant to help fund the construction of phase one of the Neil Street Plaza project, which will commence this summer. The initial construction phase plans to remodel and expand the existing One Main Plaza.

The council introduced this plan with three specific goals: dedicating the space to special events, expanding downtown’s appeal for all ages and lifestyles and improving the community image.

The city council intends to utilize community feedback to enhance the renovation and make improvements according to communal needs. To accommodate community involvement, the hope is to improve inclusivity, diversity, overall dynamics and an improved family-friendly environment.

Newly formed areas to be called Neil Street Esplanade, Hickory Promenade, The Great Lawn and The Plaza at the Hill are all main focal points of the construction and hope to house a greater expansion of community outreach and overall connectivity with pedestrian-friendly accommodations and free public spaces. 

Overall, the addition of The Scratching Post cafe, Crumbl Cookies, Neil Street Plaza and various other new additions to the community will give students many things to look forward to when returning to campus next fall.


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Jack Larson
Jack Larson, Audience Director
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